Hackathon: NITDA tasks IT students on revolutionary innovations

Some of the students at the Hackathon competition
Some of the students at the Hackathon competition

By Ijeoma Olorunfemi

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) on Tuesday urged students of Information Technology  (IT) to come up with revolutionary innovations that could address challenges in the society.

Dr Isa Pantami, the Director-General of the agency, made the call at the second edition of the agency’s FutureHack event, a national technology hackathon event held in Abuja.

FutureHack competition was scheduled to hold in three locations of selected initial geopolitical zones of the country with Nile University Abuja for North Central,ABU Zaria, Kaduna for North West and OAU,Ile-Ife,Osun state for South West.

The event was an initiative of the Office for Information Communication Technology Innovation and Enterprenuership (OIIE), a subsidiary of NITDA.

The event had its theme as ‘Innovative Technology for Addressing Local Challenges in Health sector in Nigeria for Social and Economic Development.’

It was targeted at academic environments to inculcate innovation and entrepreneurship culture in students for economic growth.

FutureHack competition was scheduled to hold in three locations of selected initial geopolitical zones of the country with Abuja for North Central, Kaduna for North West and Osun state for South West.

Participants at the Hackathon competition
Participants at the Hackathon competition

The North Central competition was targeted at addressing health challenges in the country, the North West coding would focus on agriculture, while the South West competition would be on education.

“Today’s Futurehack on e-Health will yield several viable ideas that will leverage on technology to improve the quality of health and increase demand for a better health in Nigeria.

“The e-Health edition is aimed at finding futuristic and innovative ideas that address challenges of limited access to health services specifically at rural areas.

“It will address records on death and birth based on health issues such as infant mortality rate for research and planning, automating the National Health Insurance Scheme for improved services and dearth of skilled healthcare professionals.

“Technology is already redefining the health industry. Big data is now used in medicine as medical records get digitised.

“More detailed comparative patient analysis becomes possible as lifestyles and medical histories can allow us to truly understand health risks and the impact of different treatments.

“We want IT students to think critically on solutions to address these challenges,” Pantami said.

Pantami also said that IT students through utilising their skills positively could be employed as well as become economically reliant.

According to him, mobile technology of telemedicine is increasingly being used to reduce pressure on healthcare systems by removing the need to travel to see a healthcare professional.

“Surgical robots exist that enable more precise surgery, which speeds up recovery time and also enables specialist surgeons to treat patients thousands of miles away,” he said.

He added that African continent and Nigeria had numerous challenges, which had made it the next biggest market globally and leveraging on its youthful population, skills could help address them.

The director-general further said the agency was collaborating with the Ministry of Health to identify challenges in the sector, which the hackathon event was expected to address.

According to him, the agency will in like manner connect the outstanding participants to the Ministry to contribute their ideas toward solving health challenges.

Dr Amina Magaji-Sambo, the National Coordinator, OIIE, said it was important to harness the innovative skills of the youths to address indigenous problems and grow the country’s economy.

According to her, ministries, departments and agencies can approach NITDA on developed technology solutions initiated by the participants to enable the government make impactful policies.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that 36 IT students distributed into 12 teams participated in the coding competition.

The most outstanding team, that had innovation on online demand for medical consultations emerged winner of the competition with a cash prize of N300,000,while the second was awarded N200,000 and the third N100,000.

Each of the participants also had cash prizes of N30,000.

FutureHack is an event in which computer programmers, Information Technology (IT) experts involved in software development, graphic designers, interface designers collaborate intensively on software projects.

A hackathon is usually a day long coding competition where software programmers, developers, designers, etc, come together to build and design innovative things.

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